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J Chem Inf Model. 2013 May 24;53(5):1084-99. doi: 10.1021/ci4000882. Epub 2013 Apr 26.

Fighting obesity with a sugar-based library: discovery of novel MCH-1R antagonists by a new computational-VAST approach for exploration of GPCR binding sites.

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Evotec (UK), Ltd., Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.


Obesity is an increasingly common disease. While antagonism of the melanin-concentrating hormone-1 receptor (MCH-1R) has been widely reported as a promising therapeutic avenue for obesity treatment, no MCH-1R antagonists have reached the market. Discovery and optimization of new chemical matter targeting MCH-1R is hindered by reduced HTS success rates and a lack of structural information about the MCH-1R binding site. X-ray crystallography and NMR, the major experimental sources of structural information, are very slow processes for membrane proteins and are not currently feasible for every GPCR or GPCR-ligand complex. This situation significantly limits the ability of these methods to impact the drug discovery process for GPCR targets in "real-time", and hence, there is an urgent need for other practical and cost-efficient alternatives. We present here a conceptually pioneering approach that integrates GPCR modeling with design, synthesis, and screening of a diverse library of sugar-based compounds from the VAST technology (versatile assembly on stable templates) to provide structural insights on the MCH-1R binding site. This approach creates a cost-efficient new avenue for structure-based drug discovery (SBDD) against GPCR targets. In our work, a primary VAST hit was used to construct a high-quality MCH-1R model. Following model validation, a structure-based virtual screen yielded a 14% hit rate and 10 novel chemotypes of potent MCH-1R antagonists, including EOAI3367472 (IC50 = 131 nM) and EOAI3367474 (IC50 = 213 nM).

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